What is the most you have ever paid for a ticket for football? An official one, mind, not one from a tout. £50? Certainly not if you follow your team away from home and have been to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane or even in the nPower Championship at Upton Park recently where £50 will get you entry and not even a sniff of a bottle of Emirates water or pie and mash in East London. What about for a cup final? The FA think fans will bend over backwards to be shafted for these tickets but rarely do they go into three figures. Continue reading
Our idea of heaven is a weekend away watching football and generally enjoying the local culture. All of us at TBIR were dead jealous of Danny Last across at European Football Weekends as he escaped the ice and snow of the UK for Christmas to Madrid. after nearly two weeks of being a family man he escaped for a couple of days for some football action. Below is one of his posts from his trip. Enjoy – we certainly did!
Someone in EFW’s Brilliant Ideas Dept had decided it would be a top wheeze to take in a brace of matches on the outskirts of Madrid – in the same day. Needless to say I had no objections and considered myself up to the task in hand.
A trip to Alcorcón for a midday kick off with Real Madrid Castilla (reserves) would be followed by a short trip on the metro to Getafe to see them do battle with Valladolid at 5pm. I don’t know about you but these are the sort of days I find fairly agreeable.
AD Alcorcón were involved in the second most astonishing thing ever to occur in this glorious old pastime. They were responsible for knocking Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey this season. They thrashed them 4-0 at home and only lost 0-1 in the return leg at the Bernabau. 4-1 on aggregate and the biggest upset of all time in Spanish football complete. Some Real Madrid players haven’t played since that game, notably Guti – bad few weeks for him no!?
What? You want to know the most astonishing thing ever to occur in football? Here you go then; when Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0 in 1885 – thus recording the biggest victory in any senior British match – just 18 miles down the road on the same day, Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 35-0. How’s your luck!? Worst still, the ref thought Dundee had won 37-0 but their own secretary thought they’d only scored 35 and so the lower figure was agreed upon.
Where were we? Football, Spain, oh yes…Alcorcón. Well, the twenty minute walk from the metro station to the ground takes you past a multitude of high rise blocks of flats. You also walk through a large park which – at a push – you could call an area of outstanding beauty. Its not really a place you’d choose to bring your wife on a honeymoon but good luck to it anyway. I felt just as at home here than anywhere in the country. It’s the real Spain so enjoy it.
After being relieved of €15 for my match ticket, I made my way inside the 3,000 capacity mutli-coloured all seater stadium. The first thing that you notice is that hundreds of those seats have been broken. This must have been caused by excess celebrations after that victory over Real Madrid.
These are giddy times for the club. They are due to take on Racing Santander in the next round of the cup soon. Tickets for this match (as well as the away leg) were being sold by a couple of chaps walking around the stands with a huge bundle of cash on them. Brisk trade was also being done in the club shop as shirts, scarves and pretty much everything else was selling out and fast.
Alcorcon 2 Real Madrid Castilla 1 – 3rd January 2010
After a couple of rousing renditions of We Will Rock You and with the sun not quite beaming its approval on the scene, the game got underway on what was rather marvellously – a pudding of a pitch.
The main stand was sold out and one of the fans in there was a complete loon/legend. He sang (into a microphone) alone for 90 minutes. His voice boomed out across the Municipal de Santo Domingo like an Indian call to prayer. Freaky but uniquey.
Cristian missed an open goal for Castilla early on but, what really had the locals talking was an incident on 18 minutes. Your correspondent with his right foot (I’m actually left footed) retrieved a wayward ball from the stands and lofted a perfectly chipped effort straight into the hands of Real Madrid left back Nacho (of course Nacho). He didn’t have to move a muscle. Both coaches looked at each other in semi-amazement and I’m sure at least one of them jotted down a note. I’m still sitting by my phone awaiting the call as I type.
On the stroke of half time the home side took the lead with Lopez (of course Lopez) getting his nut to an inswinging corner. It was great to see the Real Madrid players collectively losing their rag, caked in mud and evidently not wanting to be anywhere near Alcorcón.
With the aid of a bent linesman, Castilla found their way back into the game three minutes from time. Juan Carlos (of course Carlos) equalised with what would have been the most undeserved point ever gained by a team in the nattily named Campeonato Nacional de Liga, 2a Division “B” Group II.
Luckily, for all the romantics in the ground, super-sub David Sanz was on hand to bring a bit of justice to proceedings. He chose the very last bit of action in the match to head home the winner and send the home crowd into another seatbreaking celebration. I stood with the ultras behind the goal in the second half and although relatively few in number, there was pandemonium in there when the goal went in. Some tried to pull the goal down in all the excitement. A brown besuited policeman saw to that though and stood triumphantly in the goalmouth afterwards beating his chest. Marvellous scenes.
After the game, I reaped the benefit of this being a working class town rather than a tourist trap. For just €8 I was able to enjoy a three course meal complete with bottle of acceptable red wine in a little family restaurant near to the station. Don’t mind if I do. After all, I had another match to attend at Getafe in a couple of hours. Thanks Alcorcón, el orgullo de Madrid otra vez.
Read about the rest of Danny’s Madrid heaven here .
In April 2009 Forbes magazine published a list of the World 25 Richest clubs. The list unsurprisingly is headed by Manchester United and Real Madrid, with Arsenal surprisingly in third place. What how do they actually define profit? Well as only a few of the clubs in the Top 25 are publically listed they can actually be very ambiguous in how they class certain expenses and so the true position is slightly different. Profit is also a short term measure. You can run a business at a loss for years on end and pile up massive debt but in one year when you actually make profit you could appear on this list simply by selling one player, or the naming rights to a stadium.
So Manchester United’s £80m sale of Christiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid will almost certainly keep them at the top of the list next season as that is money they apply straight away to their P & L. Now here’s the thing. Accounting regulations allow them to book that money straight away as revenue, despite the fact Real Madrid may only pay the £80m in installments. And Real Madrid will not show an £80m payment all in one go, they will write that off over a period of years – thus completely defeating the object of double-keeping in accounting.
So in order to judge which clubs are the best run financially in the world we should consider the long term situation, and the impact of debt. At the start of the 2008/09 Premier League season there were only two clubs who had no debt – Hull City and unbelievably West Ham United. Despite all of the financial issues surrounding the club, West Ham actually had no debt. That was because when the original Icelandic take over went through, the debt was wiped out completely and transfered to the parent company, Hansa. When Hansa went under then their assets which included the club were transfered to new owners, but the club was/is still debt free (apparently).
So, according to World Soccer Magazine the list of the most indebted clubs in the world can be revealed as:-
1. Manchester United – esimated debt £699million. Includes interest accuring at 14.25% annually on the original £556m Glazer family loans.
2. Real Madrid – £494million. No surprises here and this is before the borrowing from various banks for Kaka and Ronaldo. Very little in terms of assets they can sell off to re-finance as well.
3. Atletico Madrid – £449million. Built up over decades chasing the La Liga dream. Some expensive acquisitions have got them to this point although a deal to sell their Vincente Calderon stadium is due soon to reduce this.
4. Valencia – £441million. Up to their necks in it. Their new stadium is only partly built as they still cannot find a buyer for the Mestalla. Even the sale of prize asset David Villa will not even make a dent in this amount.
5. Arsenal – £416million. Poor deluded Gunners who think they are financially secure because of the stadium. They borrowed £200m for its construction and now owe double that. Wenger’s transfer inactivity is nothing to do with his prudence. Failure to make the Champions League Group Stages will have a serious impact on them financially.
6. Barcelona – £384million*. Despite being the best team in the world, and the highest average attendance, the club is in serious debt like the rest of them.
7. Chelsea – £339million. Halved from the £701m last year but that is because £360million owed to owner Abramovich was converted into shares in Chelsea Village plc. Peter Kenyon made some bold statements in the past that Chelsea would be profitable by 2010, and this is how – convert debt (and interest) to equity.
8. AS Roma – £330million. The most indebted Italian club and one that has lurched from crisis to crisis. Do not own their own stadium so cannot use that as a bargaining chip. The Sensi family who own the club are being put under pressure to seriously reduce this amount.
9. Liverpool – £313million. And you wonder why the stadium project is so slow to start. Neither Gillett or Hicks is prepared to dig deeper into their own pockets considering they still owe so much.
10. Deportivo La Coruna – £257million*. Remember La Coruna? Tried to challenge the big two a few years back, reached the Champions League semi-final? Sounds a bit like Leeds United really, but far far more serious. Now light years behind on the pitch and limited commercial opportunities off the pitch.
11. Villarreal – £210million*. The latest Spanish club to try and break the big two. Some success so far but at what price?
12. Fulham – £197million. A surprise to many to be so high up on a global football list, but Mohamed Al-Fayed has ploughed in over £174million into the club in over a decade which will need to be paid back at some point we would think. The real estate value of Craven Cottage is undoubtably worth more than the overall debt though.
13. Manchester City – £147million. Still waiting for annual accounts to see how this debt has been accounted for by the new owners. Will give Real Madrid a run for their money in terms of spending this year though, although they will struggle to make an impact on the higher reaches of the Premier League for a few seasons.
14. Espanyol – £133million*. Building of their new stadium near the airport has increased the overall debt.
15. Internazionale – £125million. Whilst they are the current Serie A champions, and have a wealthy benefactor in Massimo Moratti, they have few assets to their name which is a concern.
16. Racing Santander – £120million*. Who, many will say. Highest finish in La Liga has been8th back in 2008, never won a major trophy and play in a very small stadium in hardly a hot bed of football. Have not got a clube how they could have run up so much debt!
17. Newcastle United – £106million. Oh dear. Heavily in debt, relegated from the Premier League, owner trying to off load the club. Not looking good for a team that played Champions League football 10 years ago.
18. Real Zaragoza – £98million*. Another Spanish club who have racked up debts trying to keep up with the big boys and have suffered relegation all too recently.
19. Sevilla – £96million*. Recent on field success in the domestic leagues and two UEFA Cup’s have not translated into success financially.
20. Middlesbrough – £93million. Thank God for Steve Gibson who has covered all of their debts, including the building of the Riverside and some expensive overseas imports that has seen the club suffer relegation twice in ten years.
*Figures for Spanish clubs estimated by Professor Gay, a leading football industry commentator through his blog.
So to summarise, the Premier League is the richest in the world but had eight of the most indebted clubs within its legion of twenty last season, owing a whopping £2.2 BILLION. Spain’s La Liga topped that with over £2.7 billion – quite unbelievable. Notice there are no German clubs here – a league that has proper financial controls.
And I worried when I missed a payment date on my credit card!!